Westfield Case Study: Repositioning a brand around an experience

client: Westfield Corporation

Repositioning a "SHOPPING mall" brand into an experience brand

Westfield is the largest mall operator in the world (by revenue) and owns some of the most valuable real estate in some of the most glamorous city centers in nearly every continent. So when it's CMO of it's North America group wanted help repositioning the brand for today's consumer, who can order anything that a mall sells from a phone app without leaving the couch, we were excited to help take on the challenge. 

Initially hired just to update the Westfield brand guidelines and style guide to make it more useful and consistent (the existing version had been an enormous document with conflicting instructions, unclear use-cases and impractical marketing templates and examples), the first questions we had were about how to position the brand and what its key messaging pillars were... after all, in order to define the creative elements needed for clearer communication, we must first define what the brand should communicate and to whom. This led us into an engaging exploration with the CMO using the Matli Positioning Methodology as a framework to guide the conversation; 


...what unique value does Westfield bring in an age where consumers no longer need to go to a mall to do their shopping?


The positioning process crystalized the CMOs vision for Westfield's future, resulting in the key insight that people go to Westfield centers as an entertainment destination, not strictly to shop. The company had already been investing in producing events like fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, wine and food tastings, movie nights and all manner of other community outreach to bring customers in, but it had thought of these things as grafted-on lead generation exercises... whereas in reality todays consumer mainly went to the mall to meet with friends and be entertained. The entertainment aspect of a Westfield center was now its core value proposition; a physical place where people of all generations could meet with friends and family and where everyone, no matter who they were or how old they were, could find something fun and interesting to do or see or participate in. From movie theaters to make-up counters to story hours, the customer could get an experience impossible to duplicate on Amazon or in WalMart... and it was free. But you could make a whole day of it – and you were surrounded by your favorite stores selling your favorite things. 

For smaller markets, Westfield brought the world's latest fashions, trends, films, books and occasionally even celebrities to your small town in a way that Facebook never could. You could see the same things that people in New York or Paris could see; buy the same products and experience the same entertainment... it was a physical connection to the world. 

All this helped define the new positioning and messaging pillars of Westfield North America, and we codified it into a simple, scalable marketing platform in the form of brand and marketing guidelines. The Guide was created with clear, specific instructions and open-ended templates so that a General Manager in a small regional mall could hire an inexpensive freelancer to create marketing materials promoting a cat adoption event with the same panache as Westfield San Francisco City Centre might promote a celebrity-studded fundraising gala.

Westfield needed to redefine its positioning from "The Joy of Shopping" in an age when people now shop online and department stores are filing bankruptcy...


The new positioning, "Experience it first" repositioned the mall as a place where people go to be entertained.

In 2016 Westfield grew 14% in a category in strong decline.

Westfield repositioning, messaging and brand marketing guidelines

Positioning and Brand Manifesto
Positioning and Brand Manifesto

After discussions with Westfield's CMO, I conducted a brief positioning analysis using the Matli Group methodology and drafted a new brand manifesto for the team's input and alignment... The new positioning shifts Westfield from being a malls brand to a place where people experience things for the first time... a truthful, powerful and human-centric value proposition.


Core Brand Guidelines
Core Brand Guidelines

The previous global brand style guide was too complicated for use by regional teams so we first simplified the brand materials to practical essentials with simple instructions.

Photography Guidelines
Photography Guidelines

The previous guide had pages of "do" and "don't" photos without clearly articulating what brand associations photos were meant to convey... so we created guides to make this clear.


Ad Templates
Ad Templates

Stripping away pages of ad examples we crafted a small set of templates with clear image and typography layout for regional mall managers to provide to their vendors.

Additional Ad Formats
Additional Ad Formats

We included just a few re-usable templates for all of the most common ad formats in the US and UK to create a turnkey toolkit for freelance designers to work with in local markets.


Path to Purchase & Storytelling
Path to Purchase & Storytelling

We included simple guides for how to extend a campaign across multiple touchpoints as well as how to use photography to tell a story rather than just show a product.